Last month’s AGM, 8 February 2012

8 03 2012

As next week’s monthly NSTUC meeting approaches, it reminds me that we have not posted about last month’s AGM guests. Angela Glendenning and her colleagues came to talk to the meeting about the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and related issues. The TUC, Unison, Unite and many other unions support the campaign. The text below is adapted from a report that Angela kindly wrote for the NSTUC.

Angela described how last February she joined an international group of volunteers on an olive tree planting programme on the West Bank of Palestine.  She stayed with a Palestinian Christian family and helped to plant 1,600 trees for four Palestinian Muslim farmers.

Angela explained that the first field was chosen because the Separation Wall is planned to extend right across it, cutting the farmer off from half his land. The second farmer’s land was threatened by an illegal by-pass road and he needed to demonstrate that it was being cultivated. The third planting took place in a village that was wiped out during the Nakba, or Catastrophe, when hundreds of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes and villages after the partition of Palestine in 1948. The rebuilt village is now threatened by the Wall which will split Abu Nidal’s farm in two. His house will be on the Jerusalem side of the Wall and as he does not have a Jerusalem ID he and his family will become illegal residents. The fourth farmer’s land was in danger of confiscation as plans depict it as an ‘integral part of Israel’ and meanwhile an Israeli by-pass road is slowly isolating it. Palestinians are prohibited from using most of these roads which connect the illegal Israeli settlements to one to another. These will soon form a ring around East Jerusalem and cut Palestinians off from the Old City while fragmenting what is left of the West Bank into small disconnected enclaves.

Angela commented that she had immensely enjoyed her stay in the West Bank but on her return she remained very disturbed and distressed by what she had witnessed. “It is one thing to read about a military occupation and another to experience it, albeit at second hand.  It is truly dreadful.”

On her return Angela launched the North Staffordshire Olive Tree Campaign. It costs £12.50 to sponsor an olive tree and a couple of weeks ago she was able to despatch £900 representing 70 sponsors.  The Islamic Centre has also contributed just over £1000 to support Palestinian farmers. It is hoped that plaques by a field listing donors will deter Israelis from destroying trees and demonstrate support for farmers loosing their land.

What you can do

1. Sponsor an olive tree.

Please contact angela.glendenning@googlemail.com if you would like to demonstrate your solidarity with the Palestinian people by sponsoring an olive tree.

2. Boycott produce from illegal settlements

Despite the illegality of the settlements which the UK government and the European Union have repeatedly condemned, goods produced or sourced from settlements, including fruit and vegetables, processed food, wine and household goods are sold throughout Europe. This trade bolsters settlement economies and contributes to their permanence and undermines efforts to achieve peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians.

Many supermarkets follow UK government guidelines about not buying produce from settlements but smaller retailers and shops are not likely to have sophisticated tracking systems designed to distinguish illegal settlement produce from genuine West Bank products. Moreover, settlement produce can be mixed with West Bank produce to make identification of origin more difficult.

Angela made it clear that the boycott is designed to support efforts to build peace in the region and is not directed at Israeli products.

A campaign against companies involved in infrastructure projects in Israeli settlements is gathering momentum. Veolia, a water and waste management company, is a prime target and it has two depots in Stoke, one in Whittle Road and the other Alder Flat Drive. You can find out more at http://www.bigcampaign.org/veolia/

Websites

  • The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) for information about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, Veolia and how to boycott settlement goods.
  • The TUC pages on its boycott with PSC on goods from illegal Israeli settlements.
  • www.zaytoun.org identifies stockists selling Palestinian fair trade Medjoul dates, olive oil and other goods.
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21 03 2012
Sumud Palestine » Stoke-on-Trent Trades Council

[…] Stoke-on-Trent Trades Council Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign […]

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